Primark has begun selling its clothes through online fashion store Asos in a partnership that will take the retailer online for the first time. The chain said it would launch a "very limited trial" on Asos, consisting of a range of 20 womenswear garments, in an attempt to gain an "insight" into online retailing.
The move is something of a u-turn for the chain. Primark has more than 250 stores across eight countries, but no online sales presence. George Weston, chief executive of parent company Associated British Foods only recently reiterated that there would be no online Primark store, since he preferred to see customers "toddling down Oxford Street" instead of sitting at home buying fashion online.
According to the Guardian, Weston said back in April: "It is enough for us to have great fashion in good locations at the right price. That simply works for us ... We don't have a problem that needs fixing."
But in spite of these comments, the Primark collection went on sale yesterday on Asos, and includes a £6 Airtex t-shirt and a studded parka selling for £22, taking its clothes to a whole new section of the market.
Tarlok Teji, a retail analyst at Manchester Business School, told Reuters that the partnership between Primark and Asos made good sense. "The details of the deal are unclear but I expect it will increase throughput for ASOS and give Primark customers a 'digital shopping channel'. We should expect both parties to do well from this venture."
Primark has so far managed to buck the retail gloom. The company reported a 24% increase in sales in April, a level of growth that helped see Associated British Foods report half-year pre-tax profits of £415m, up from £329m a year earlier, according to the BBC.
Introducing the Primark collection on its website, Asos said: "Retail phenomenon Primark joins Asos as part of our round up of great British high street brands. With their unique take on the latest must-haves and newest trends, Primark fans can get their hands on their award-winning affordable fashion, from skinny jeans and denim to skater dresses and printed t-shirts."